Nine more cases of the British coronavirus mutation found in Netherlands
A highly-contagious mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been found a total of eleven times in the Netherlands, up from the two cases previously disclosed in Amsterdam. Five of the cases were tied to a primary school in Rotterdam, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said in a letter to Parliament on Monday.
The Outbreak Management Team advising the Dutch Cabinet will meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation and provide direction with the handling of the new developments. He did not explicitly mention any new coronavirus restrictions, other than to ask the public to continue to strictly limit household guests to a maximum of two, also during New Year’s celebration.
Researchers said the mutated version is about 70 percent more contagious than the viral strain in the Netherlands. It is believed to be responsible for a December surge in coronavirus infections in the United Kingdom that pushed much of that country into a strict lockdown. This setback also prompted Dutch and other European authorities to temporarily block UK travel passengers from arriving in the Netherlands.
Of the eleven cases in the Netherlands, five were linked to teachers and students at an undisclosed Rotterdam school. “Because an outbreak at a primary school is remarkable and much is still unknown, the RIVM, together with the GGD in Rotterdam, decided to investigate this cluster further. Not only the teachers and pupils who are infected are examined, but also the households of these teachers and pupils, and the situation at the school is also further mapped out by means of questionnaires,” De Jonge wrote.
While much was still unknown about the Rotterdam cluster, one case in Nijmegen was discovered in a person who has recently had a personal connection to the United Kingdom. Five Amsterdam cases in total have also been tied to the mutation through source and contact investigations and also random monitoring of coronavirus test samples.
“Over the course of this week and next, several hundred samples from all regions will be examined for the study of the degree of distribution in the Netherlands,” De Jonge wrote. Chantal Reusken, the leading virologist at public health agency RIVM, said she anticipated the British mutation to show up in the Netherlands much more frequently, starting this week.